Seattle Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer had better start looking for some fullbacks.
Luckily for him, he’s got some spare allocation money to do so.
The Seattle Sounders lost a combined 51 starts at the outside back positions from 2011 after losing James Riley in the Expansion Draft and trading Tyson Wahl to Montreal for allocation money.
The losses, while painful, weren’t entirely unexpected as coach Sigi Schmid had hinted about upgrading the outside back positions before the 2012 season got underway. Turnovers from the outside back positions hurt Seattle down the stretch and the departures should help the search for replacements by clearing space from the team’s expected budget in 2012.
“For us, we’d like to be a little better playing the ball out of the back,” Schmid said in an end-of-season interview on Nov. 11.
Riley, who was immediately flipped to Chivas USA for attackers Justin Braun and Gerson Mayen, had been a stalwart in his three years since joining Seattle during the 2008 Expansion Draft. He racked up 83 regular season starts since 2009 and had become a well-loved figure for his work in the community.
"It's not surprising that James Riley was picked by Montreal," Schmid said in a statement. "He's been our starting right back for three years and a quality player. We knew it would be a risk to not protect him.”
While Wahl had been a center back for most of his career, but emerged in 2011 after remaking himself as a left back. Using a strong left foot on corner kicks and set pieces to help with the attack, the 27-year-old earned 22 starts at left back, mostly displacing Leo González’ as Schmid's first choice.
"Tyson has been a solid contributor, earning more minutes with each season," said Schmid. "We'll miss his value to our team, but this trade enables him to be a full-time starter and the allocation money will help us maintain the high quality in our team."
Seattle opted to protect seven midfielders for Wednesday’s expansion draft, leaving much of its backline unprotected.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.